I’ve realised that many of the posts I’ve written have been critiquing something (I always knew I had the makings of a lawyer). The British are often considered to have a rather negative outlook. So I’ve decided that I’d like to share more optimistic stories and ideas on here. But…..
…I can’t resist by sharing my observations on encouraging a more positive approach. Within psychology there has been increasing interest in looking at people at their best rather than people as dysfunctional. Martin Seligman, for example, is well known for his work in Positive Psychology. We even have techniques designed to work with the positive such as Appreciative Inquiry and Solutions-Focused coaching.
In practice I have found it a continuing challenge to shift people’s focus. When facilitating project reviews, for example, I used to start by asking ‘What went well?’ but inevitably there would be silence and then someone would say ‘Well communication was ok but..’. In the end, I switched it round and asked ‘What didn’t go well?’ to which there would be immediate answers. Once people had ‘vented’ their frustrations, then I found that they could focus on what went well.
When asking people to give feedback about themselves I’ve also found that they leap into the negative. And often the positives come out as rather wishy washy statements.
So, are we programmed to look for the problems first? If we see the problems as potential threats to our survival, it would make sense to want to deal with those first, before we can relax. Or maybe this is just a British thing? Do other cultures, such as those where people value ‘saving face’, have different experiences?
What do you think?
You can contact me via:
Email: alison @ growinginsights.co.uk
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